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The Wedge Guy: Chipping creativity

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Before I get to today’s topic on the value of being creative when you are assessing a chip shot, I would like to apologize for the apparently miscoded link to the survey in last week’s column. We finally got it fixed, but I know some of you were frustrated by this glitch. I would like to encourage all of you to spend a few minutes, click on the link below and take our first GolfWRX/TheWedgeGuy survey. We are looking to learn more about how you play the game so that we can make sure to deliver more relevant content going forward.

If you haven’t completed the survey already, please click the link below as soon as possible. We will be sharing the results in the weeks ahead – and from the early surveys, it appears there will be some very interesting things to learn about all you GolfWRXers.

One of the great things about golf is that the course is constantly throwing an array of challenging situations at you and testing your shotmaking skills at every turn. And more of those devilish little challenges seem to be presented around the greens, as your ball can find a wide variety of lies to nestle into and give you a practically endless selection of shots to face.
For most of them, we can simply grab our favorite chipping club (or clubs) and hit a reasonably routine chip shot. But sometimes that just is not your percentage play. Let’s examine a couple of those situations.

One that I find particularly difficult is a chip from tightly mowed turf that is soft, and/or where the grain of the grass is running against you. This situation demands almost perfect contact, as your margin for error is very small. The bounce of your wedge will likely be compromised by the soft turf and/or the grain of the grass running toward you from the flag. Even the slightest mishit will cause the leading edge to dig in this situation. So, what are your other options?

One of my favorite alternatives in this kind of situation is to choose a fairway wood or hybrid and basically “putt” the ball. The loft of the fairway or hybrid will get the ball slightly airborne so that it stays on top of the grass and takes on a pretty true roll toward the hole. And by gripping down and using a putting stroke, it is highly unlikely you will hit the turf behind the ball, and even if you do, you’ll likely “get away with it”.

Another one of those difficult lies is when the ball has found deeper grass, but only a few feet or yards off the green. It is quite apparent that grass is going to get between the clubface and the ball, so your ability to put any meaningful spin on the ball is going to be compromised significantly. To me, in this situation, your best bet is to play it like a bunker shot.

Open the face as the grass will try to cause the face to close through impact, and then just try to “explode” the ball out of the tall grass like you would out of the sand, with your desired impact point behind the ball. The sole of the wedge will get under the ball and slide along the turf, just as it would in the sand. But don’t count on getting the kind of spin you can often get from a bunker and allow that the ball will roll out much more with this type of shot.

Another tip for when this kind of shot finds the ball sitting up or somewhat perched in the column of grass is to go to a lower lofted club, while still opening the face. That gives you a more vertical face orientation so that you are less likely to sweep the clubhead too much under the ball. That lower lofted club can also increase the amount of roll out you can expect, of course.

Obviously, we cannot address all the different chip shots you might face in any given round of golf in one article, but if you practice a bit with these two shots and add them to your arsenal, you will have a “bigger quiver of arrows” to choose from when you are facing a chip shot that is outside “routine”, where you can be confident with your favorite chipping club or two.

If you all have any questions about other short-range trouble shots, let me know, and we’ll all dive into those together.
Until next week, I look forward to seeing more survey responses and sharing those results with you soon.

 

Editor’s note: Featured image from our Tom Stickney’s excellent video on chipping with a hybrid.

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Terry Koehler is a fourth generation Texan, a native of a small South Texas town and a graduate of Texas A&M University. He has had a most interesting 40-year career in the golf industry. He has created five start-up companies, ranging from advertising agencies to golf equipment companies. You might remember Reid Lockhart, EIDOLON, or SCOR, but you would certainly know his most recent accomplishment: the reintroduction of Ben Hogan to the golf equipment industry in 2015. Terry has been a prolific equipment designer of over 100 putters and several irons, but many know Koehler as simply “The Wedge Guy”, as he authored over 700 articles on his blog by that name from 2003-2010. For almost 25 years, his wedge designs have possibly stimulated other companies to also try to raise the CG and improve wedge performance.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. greg

    Aug 31, 2019 at 11:12 pm

    Link to the survey functional. Results should be interesting.

  2. Edley

    Aug 28, 2019 at 4:03 pm

    The wet area, tight lie has been my nemesis for literally year now. Every time I go to qualify for my city AM, the courses are always so wet in late August. I will definitely be playing those chips with a hybrid or fw!

  3. Ray

    Aug 27, 2019 at 9:42 am

    Beautiful picture. What course is this??

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